When Bad Things Happen to Good Trees

Trees that I've been (successfully) nurturing for 15 years are groaning under snow loads, wind and ice. Here's an example of a Blue Point Juniper (Juniperus chinensis 'Blue Point') that we planted as a 2' sapling around 1998. It had grown to a very healthy 18'. The February 2013 storms have broken a number of branches from the center.  


Blue Point Juniper, Before and After Snow Damage 2013


Now what? When bad things happen to good trees, it is possible for them to rebound--but it often requires some proactive steps. Remove dead material first. Prune out splits and cracks where possible. A mycorhizzae root feeding later in the spring won't hurt a thing. Hopefully, the 2013 growing season will be generous with rain. 


The one thing we must do that I, for one, least like to hear is that four-letter word: WAIT. Wait for the tree to respond. For the time being, that handsome crown earned over 15 years has been interrupted.


This year, light will reach the inner portions of the tree for the first time since it developed long limbs and an abundant needle cover over ten years ago. Branches should respond with new growth. It may not be so handsome for a while, however.


If the trees are severely bent, but not broken (see arborvitae on the right), chances are good they'll find their upright status again on their own. Sunlight has that effect on plants!





Arborvitae bending under snow load.